The Consequences of the Hebron Protocol on Businesses The case of the old city of Hebron (H2 area)

Munther Yahya Hamed Adhami
منذر يحيى حامد ادهمي
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Al-Quds University
The importance of Hebron’s old city stims from its religious, cultural, and economic significance. Since the Israeli occupation, Hebron has been a contested place between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Palestinians of the old city have always suffered the consequences of the occupation and the presence of Israeli settlements within Palestinian neighbourhoods. In the aftermath of Oslo Accord (in 1993), a special agreement was developed for Hebron, the Hebron Protocol at a later stage (in 1997). The agreement resulted in dividing the city into two parts, with main religious, historical, and commercial venues kept under Israeli security control. The direct consequence of the protocol is segregation between H-1 and H-2, and fragmentation of the Israeli-controlled area (H-2). The agreement has granted the Israelis extra power that enabled them to isolate the old city through the imposition of harsh security measures, which severely isolated of the old city; therefore contributed significantly to cease of businesses and abandonment of many residences, and resulting restrictions on access to services and hindrance of natural growth. The main goal of the study is to diagnose main factors that contributed to the decline of businesses and investment concerning the terms of the Hebron Protocol. To achieve this, the study staged interviews and focus groups, in addition to a questionnaire distributed to the study sample, to explicitly illustrate the negative impact of the protocol on businesses from all of its dimensions. The main motivators for doing this thesis are: To demonstrate the weak terms of the agreement and highlight Israelis’ breach of the agreement terms and therefore demonstrate the consequences on businesses and investment in the old city. The study results concluded that the Protocol contributed to the isolation and segregation of the old city, decline in security and services, and therefore decline in businesses and investment, with severe economic losses for all economic sectors. Despite what the study showed about the existence of a relationship between the protocol and businesses, and lack of commitment of the Israelis to the terms of the Protocol resulted in security, economic, and social consequences, altogether pushed businesses and investment to abandon the area, it appears that this protocol gives way to the Israeli occupation to further control civic space in favour of Israeli settlements’ expansions, and hence impose their sovereignty over the old city. Such circumstances created a coercive environment and forced the majority of businesses and many residences to leave the area. This is reflected in a significant negative impact, not only on the demographic composition of the old city and on Palestinian businesses, but also all other sectors such as transportation, tourism, and services